Travellers – an ethnic community

Sir, – The Traveller community has, after a 30-year campaign, been recognised as a truly ethnic community by the state. I suggest that March 1st should, in future, be designated as national “Traveller Day” when their achievements can be celebrated and issues of concern to them highlighted. – Yours, etc,


Stranorlar, Co Donegal.

Sir, – Your article on the recognition of Traveller ethnicity quoted a report presented to the Cabinet that recognition of Travellers would "neither confer new rights on the community nor mean any extra costs". ("Travellers to be recognised as ethnic minority for first time", March 1st). Why do I have a feeling that the reverse will be the case, that it will cost a fortune and will give Travellers extensive preferential rights? And if there are no new rights conferred with recognition of ethnicity, why would any group bother in the first place?


As an Irishman with Polish DNA, I am a member of an ethnic group larger than the Travellers. I will be following events closely to see whether I should start lobbying for official recognition also. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.

Sir, – It is disingenuous for Michael O'Loughlin to relate the position of Travellers to those seeking civil rights in 1960s America ("The case for an apology to the Traveller community", Opinion & Analysis, March 3rd). The black people seeking their civil rights wanted to be treated in exactly the same way as the rest of society, nothing more nothing less. In contrast, the Traveller situation is that they want to be treated differently from the rest of society. This is an objective they are perfectly entitled to seek but it is obviously a more difficult problem to resolve. Despite seeing reams of paper devoted to Traveller issues either from their own perspective or from the perspective of the settled community, I have never seen any serious acknowledgement that the matter is one of different rights not equal rights.

What is abundantly clear is that the continuance of the present situation perpetuates the terrible deficits which the travelling community suffers in respect of health and education. Now that the travelling community is to be given ethnic status it is incumbent on their leaders to sit down with Government Ministers in order to find a way in which their desired lifestyle can be tailored in such a way as to provide decent education and health for the future generations. That will be more useful than nebulous apologies. – Yours, etc,


Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Sir, – With rights come responsibilities. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – A jubilant day for Travellers in Ireland. A celebration of human rights. I believe Ireland is moving in the right direction at long last. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.